11 Steps to Creating a Happy and Productive Work Place in Your REI Business

by | BiggerPockets.com

I read an article recently in Success Magazine that said the number 1 reason people quit their jobs is that they feel unappreciated.

The article went on to list 11 steps every business owner should take to create a happy work environment.  These steps can be applied to any business, but they are certainly relevant to a real estate investing business.  So many times we start out as “one man shops” so to speak.  At some point we are all forced to admit that one person simply cannot do it all, and we will start to add an employee or two or we may get a virtual assistant.

What happens next is often like throwing someone off a boat then telling them, “Just move your arms and kick your feet.  That’s called swimming.  Just swim to shore”.

Because we are so busy, not only do we fail to give our new team members the proper training (this takes a lot of time), but so often when they actually do start to “get it” and are doing a good job, we don’t acknowledge them for all their hard work.

The other thing that commonly happens is that as entrepreneurs we tend to micromanage every little thing.  We just can’t let go and give them ownership of the job. Here are some things you can do to create a happy and productive workplace in your real estate investing business.

11 Steps for a Happy and Productive Workplace

The following are 11 steps that if taken, will produce a more happy and more productive work environment.

 1. Make Wise Choices When Hiring

This is probably the most crucial step of all.  Sometimes in our haste to get someone on board to take on some of the crushing workload we “settle”.  We grab the first person that comes along thinking we can “make them work out “which rarely happens if we hire badly.

The first step to hiring wisely is to have a complete job description of exactly what the new job entails.  No employee can do their job well if they aren’t clear on what it is that is expected of them.  The same is true of an off-site VA.  Spend the necessary time hiring the right person even if it takes longer than you would like, then take the time to really train your new hire so they can do a good job.

2. Clearly Communicate Your Company’s Reason for “Being” and its Cultural Goals

Zappos is the first company that comes to mind where this is concerned. Everyone at Zappos knows and understands the company culture. You don’t have to be a big business to have this same mindset and business atmosphere.  If the people that work in your company don’t understand your company’s culture and its goals, they can’t possibly be part of carrying them out. It’s your job to educate your employees about these things.

Related: 7 Real Estate Investing Lessons We Can Learn from Steve Jobs

3. Nurture Civility

This shouldn’t be optional. Treat everyone with respect and demand it from everyone in your workplace.

4. Encourage Innovative Thinking

Many employers big and small, are threatened by innovative thinking when it comes to their employees.  Folks will say “after all, we have always done it this way”.

Hire people that are creative thinkers, and encourage them to think outside the box and find better ways of doing things.  Folks that take ownership of their jobs tend to be happier at work and stay longer. You should always be looking to hire people with skills that you don’t have.

5. Recognize the Positive

As entrepreneurs we are all terribly busy, but it’s important to make a point to let your team members know you value them.  Look for ways to make them feel valued and appreciated. Even the little things count.

6. Find Out What is Important to the People that Work for You

Folks leave jobs all the time where they have great pay, but the workplace is lacking in “something else”. That something else will not be the same for each individual.  It is your job to figure this out.

7. Solicit Which Perks are Important to Whom

A single mom will likely want different perks than a man or woman who don’t have children at home.  One person might need a more flexible work schedule which can often be accommodated in real estate investing businesses, or they may want to use their vacation time in the form of 3 day weekends during boating season.  If you can accommodate that “something else” you may just have a long term employee for your REI business. Your goal should be to make it easy for them to love your workplace.  In return, you should demand excellence as part of your culture.

Related: 5 Steps to Building Your Real Estate Investment Business

8. Share the Gain as Well as the Pain

It’s important that folks know that their ideas have had a positive effect on your business.  If someone came up with an innovative idea that resulted in more deals or better deals, let them know their ideas were worked well for the business.  They will be much more willing to go the extra mile when those inevitable times of pain come along.

9. Don’t micromanage Every Move

This is a big one not only for real estate investors but for entrepreneurs in general.

We like to have our hands on everything. This is a big mistake especially if you are trying to create a scalable business. Let go and let folks do their jobs. Will they be done exactly like we would do it?  Probably not, but that’s OK.  They may surprise us and actually do it better than we do because it’s not our “core genius”.  Our end goal should be to let go of everything except building our real estate investing businesses.  You want to be the captain of your ship, not one of the crew members.

10. Look People in the Eye

This one is really simple. Don’t talk at them, but talk with them.  It all goes back to making people feel like they are truly valued members of the team.

11. Mean What You Say, and Say What You Mean

Be “that person”.  Enough said.

So there you have it; a formula for creating a happy and productive workplace which will always have a positive effect on your bottom line.

What other tips do you have to add?

Be sure to leave your comments below!

About Author

Sharon Vornholt

Sharon has been investing in real estate since 1998. She owned and operated a successful home inspection company for 17 years. In January of 2008 she took the leap of closing her business to become a full time real estate investor.


  1. Sharon,

    Some company have no clue on how to treat their employees. Most of them don’t even say morning, how you doing today? Just these simple words can mean the world to someone not feeling appreciated at their place of business.

    I always preach that if you take care of your employees, then they will take care of you and work that much harder. Sharon your list hits all all points, and hope businesses who read BP take note.

    Antonio Coleman “Signing Off”

  2. Great article and wonderful points Sharon! I recently attended a “90 listings in 90 days” seminar hosted by Keller Williams. While I’m not a realtor, I do work with several, and a lot of the concepts are the same as were addressed in your article. The industry is changing and we need to change with it.

    • Roy –

      Keller Williams is a really progressive company so I’m not surprised. If you can create a culture in your company that is good for business but is also good for employees, it’s a win-win for everyone. We all spend too many hours at work to be miserable.


  3. Glenn Schworm

    Great article Sharon. A few months ago we had to let go of our first employee who was here from the early days. Over a 2 year span, her attitude went from bad to worse for no reason on our end and at the end of the day, we had to remove the cancer from our organization. Once we did, the team took on a whole new attitude. As you said, It is so important to make wise choices while hiring and it is equally as important to know when to cut them loose if they are no longer an asset to the company. Allowing an employee with a bad attitude to stay WILL bring down your entire team. We held on for 2 years out of pure loyalty, and in the end that did not prove to be the best choice. Thanks for the article, enjoyed it as always.

    • Glenn –

      That is a problem that I have definitely had in the past. I have been guilty of giving people chance after chance (to a fault), and also trying to “fix them” so they are a fit with the company. That is definitely a mistake. You need to cut your losses early and move on. It’s best for everyone. And like you said, it really hurts company morale when you don’t fix the problem. Thanks for your comments.


  4. What an awesome article! Great work with that Sharon! Something else I think that is challenge for leaders at all levels is in learning “how to teach.” I have to admit that at first I didn’t realize the tremendous amount of patience required to be an effective teacher. Some tasks aren’t so complex. When you have a quality employee that picks up VERY quickly, THAT challenges you. It shouldn’t intimidate, but it certainly requires a commitment to develop them further.

    • You really nailed it Juan; hiring the right employee from the start is the secret I do believe Don’t settle!

      So often, we are in a rush to put someone “in the seat”. It’s almost always better to tough it out in the short term and wait for the right person that you will be happy with long term. I have found that if you train someone properly even though it takes a lot of time, both you and the employee are much happier.

      Thanks for your comments.

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